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Glenn College Partners in New Initiative to Advance Interdisciplinary Research

News Type College News

The Glenn College of Public Affairs is among 10 Ohio State University entities joining forces to advance interdisciplinary science, scholarship and creative expression that address pressing societal challenges. Led by the Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI), the new Interdisciplinary Research Enabling Initiative will support university teams with a combination of funding, facilities, staff support and other in-kind resources.

“This approach helps connect interdisciplinary teams with a much larger set of resources, including some they may not know about, and it streamlines the process for everyone involved,” said Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

The Glenn College is co-sponsoring interdisciplinary pilot awards related to responsible and ethical data science. In addition to up to $50,000 in direct cost funding and TDAI data resources, the Glenn College-sponsored awards may include:

  • Assistance in accessing the Ohio Longitudinal Data Archive through the Ohio Education Research Center
  • Battelle Center for Science and Engineering student community group formation for research or rapid innovation course
  • Consulting services for researchers on engaging government partners (e.g., translational government scientist participation, navigating agreement processes, accessing data, etc.) and
  • Access to a TDAI Postdoctoral Fellow.

Resources for the Interdisciplinary Research Enabling Initiative are provided by:

Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC)
Center for Cancer Engineering (CCE-CURES)
Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS)
Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA)
College of Medicine Department of Biomedical Informatics (BMI)
Global Art and Humanities Discovery Theme (GAHDT)
Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)
John Glenn College of Public Affairs
Sustainability Institute (SI)
Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI)

Components of the initiative will include:

  • Interdisciplinary Research Pilot AwardsResearch support for proofs of concept by interdisciplinary teams to pursue extramural opportunities 
  • Scaling Grants: Support for interdisciplinary extramural proposal development and execution
  • Facilitated ideation sessions to convene teams and plan scaling efforts toward large-scale extramural opportunities
  • Interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowships

“This effort is a coming together of partners that is only possible at Ohio State, to enable transformational work that only our community can do,” said TDAI faculty director Tanya Berger-Wolf, professor of computer science and engineering; evolution, ecology, and organismal biology; and electrical and computer engineering. “It is more than just seed grants—it’s all manner of helping people to connect across disciplines and utilize resources to create data-enabled solutions for the greater good.”

The collaborative initiative will kick off with a call for proposals for interdisciplinary research pilots that emphasize (but are not limited to) four topic areas:

  • AI and Health
  • Environment, Sustainability and Climate
  • Responsible and Ethical Data Science
  • Smart Mobility

For many of the partners that were established to facilitate interdisciplinary work, the new collaboration is an evolutionary next step.

“This effort takes the ‘breaking down silos’ mission to a new level,” said Sustainability Institute Faculty Director Elena Irwin, Distinguished Professor of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences in Economics & Sustainability. “By establishing an agile working network around common interests, the partners together can expand our capacity and impact exponentially.”

The Interdisciplinary Research Enabling Initiative builds on an approach that TDAI, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Department of Biomedical Informatics began in 2020, when they pooled resources to support five research teams despite pandemic-related budget constraints.

“The necessity of those circumstances forced us to stretch and do things differently than we otherwise might have—and we have ended up better for it,” said CCTS director Rebecca Jackson, MD, professor of internal medicine/endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, and physical medicine and rehabilitation, and associate dean of clinical research in the Ohio State College of Medicine. “It makes obvious sense now; it just hadn’t been done before. The synergies combined together with unique perspectives and support should help to catalyze science more effectively.”